Friday, September 6, 2013

Foxconn: humane or inhumane?

The link up there is an article in Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is trying to shifts its supply chain away from Foxconn to Pegatron. This shift is probably because of the pressure from social media starting to reveal the inhumane treatment of the labors in Foxconn, which takes almost all the assembling contract of Apple products.

Only after the mass suicide of Foxconn workers, the inhumane treatment of them start to catch everybody's attention. As a matter of fact, the treatment of Foxconn workers have been reported in every newspapers in China for more than a year before it went viral in U.S. only because Apple was related. Does this indicates that our sense of humanity is largely controlled by social media? When people talked about the inhumane treatment of Foxconn workers, no one cared about what would happen if they did not have the job in Foxconn. Wouldn't that makes no difference from asking the starving people who cannot have a bread to eat the cakes.

Humanity itself is a fiction. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is probably the most conclusive document in human right. Although it cannot be enforced, it declares almost all the rights that a human being is supposed to have. However, if we simplify this document, we can parallel compare it to Asimov's first and third principle on robotics. Human beings are granted all rights as soon as they are born; the only difference is that people live under different rules.

Digging deeper into Foxconn, it has been revealed that Foxconn workers often work overtime and being paid very little. This is the major part that media and audiences considers the inhumane treatment; however, this is not what causes mass suicide. All the Foxconn camps have very good infrastructure for the for workers: they have nice cafeteria, gym, entertainment facility etc. But the company deliberately deprive social lives of its workers. For instance, the seven roommates of  the first worker who committed suicide were not even familiar with him because the they change rooms every couple of days. The workers seldom have got any friends inside the factory, and this kind of loneliness finally caused the suicides of Foxconn workers. Although this incident is revealed by social media, Foxconn did not changes its strategy but added psychological assistance to their workers and protective nets around the workers dorm building.

While we are busying finding the most thorough and conclusive definition of human rights, we should also improve and perfect the different rules under current circumstances.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. Very interesting post. Very good comments about robotics and rights. Rights are definitely NOT rules! You would be surprised to learn that many big factories use this very trick to keep workers isolated - they give them things they need, but no freedom to advance or even to move outside the company to improve their lives. It is like they are employees for life